How to Learn Any Language in Six Months, by Chris Lonsdale

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Introduction

Hopefully this lesson will be useful for everyone. If you’re learning IELTS, you’ll be familiar with the desire to learn language quickly. Today’s speaker, Chris Lonsdale, says that you can become fluent in any language in just six months! It’s a bold claim and thus highly controversial. I recommend you listen and take note. He certainly has some good ideas, even if you can’t learn everything in just six months. The video is called “How to learn any language in six months.”

IELTS Skill

For the comprehension questions I’ll ask you to practice your note-taking skills. You should be listening for main ideas and supporting details.

Vocabulary

Let’s start by looking at some useful vocabulary from the video.

Psychology n. – the scientific study of the human mind and its functions

(Social) dislocation n. – dislocation means to be removed from original place, so social dislocation means being apart from your peers

Dispel v. – to make something go away, usually an idea or belief

Immersion n. – being immersed (submerged) in something, such as immersion language learning

Refined adj. – improved or made better

per se adv. – exactly

Deaf n. – unable to hear

Comprehensible adj. – understandable

Physiological adj. – relating to living being’s body

Vocab Test

Use the above vocabulary to fill in the blanks. (Answers are at the bottom of this page.)

  1. His invention was ____________ over time until it was ready for the public.
  2. The scientists studied the animal’s _____________ responses.
  3. She was fascinated by ______________ as a child, so she studied it at university.
  4. After moving to the new city, the girl suffered from _______________________.
  5. “That’s not what I meant, _____________,” he explained.
  6. The company did everything it could to ______________ rumours about a product recall.
  7. The boy was born _____________ and had to communicate through sign language.
  8. It is important, in the IELTS speaking exam, to use clear and _______________ English.
  9. In order to learn a language, it is important to go through a process of __________________.

Listening Practice

Watch the following video and answer the questions below.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What are the two myths?
  2. What are the five principals?
  3. What are the seven actions?
  4. What are the four rules of a language parent?

 

Understanding meaning from context

Sometimes you will hear a word you don’t understand, but you can get its meaning from context. Listen to the beginning of the recording and find the definition of “hypnopaedia.” Then skip to the end (the last minute) and find the meaning of “crackling.”

Speaking

In the IELTS Speaking exam you may be asked about learning languages.

  1. Do you like learning languages?
  2. How did you learn the languages that you know?
  3. Why do people learn more than one language?
  4. Do you think that all children should learn foreign languages at school?
  5. When and where you began studying English?
  6. What is the most interesting thing in an English class?
  7. What is the most effective way of learning English?
  8. What difficulties do you have when learning English?
  9. What are the advantages of learning English?
  10. What problems do you have when studying English?
  11. Do you think that English is the most important language in the world?
  12. Can English take the place of Chinese in China?
  13. What other languages are taught in China?
  14. Do you think that age is the most important factor of learning English? Why?
  15. What difficulties would a foreigner have when he learns your native language?
  16. What problems would Chinese people have when communicating with foreigners?
  17. When would be most suitable for children to learn English?
  18. How will translation and interpretation develop in the future?

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers to the above questions, with useful language underlined:

  1. Yes, I think that children should learn foreign languages at school. Knowing another language is a valuable life skill, and I think it’s beneficial for children to have that advantage.

 

  1. In studying English, I find that I have difficulty improving my speaking skills because I seldom have the opportunity to talk with a native speaker.

 

  1. I think that it is important for children to learn to speak English when they are very young because in their early years children’s ability to pick up a language is highly developed. Later, after speaking only one language for a long time, it becomes much harder to learn a second.

 

Answers

Vocab test

  1. refined
  2. physiological
  3. psychology
  4. social dislocation
  5. per se
  6. dispel
  7. deaf
  8. comprehensible
  9. immersion

Comprehension

  1. That you need to have a talent for language and that immersion will guarantee success.
  2. The five principles are:
    1. Focus on language content that is relevant to you.
    2. Use your language as a tool to communicate from day 1.
    3. When you understand the message you will acquire the language unconsciously.
    4. Language is not about accumulating a lot of knowledge but is rather a type of physiological training.
    5. Psycho-physiological state matters – you need to be happy, relaxed, and most importantly, you need to be tolerant of ambiguity. Don’t try to understand every detail as it will drive you crazy.
  3. The seven actions are:
    1. Listen a lot – it doesn’t matter if you understand or not. Listen to rhythms and patterns.
    2. Focus on getting the meaning first, before the words. Body language and facial expressions can help.
    3. Start mixing, get creative, and use what you’re learning
    4. Focus on the core – the most commonly-used words, and use the language to learn more
    5. Get a language parent
    6. Copy the face – watch native speakers and observe who their face, and particular their mouth, moves when they’re speaking
    7. “Direct connect” to the target language – find ways to connect words directly with images and other internal representations.
  4. A language parent will:
    1. will do their best to understand what you mean
    2. will not correct your mistakes
    3. will feedback their understanding of what you’re saying using correct language
    4. use words that you know

Meaning from Context

Hypnopaedia means learning in your sleep. You may recognize “hypno-” from words like hypnotism. It means to be unconscious. “-paedia” means knowledge. You may remember that from the word encyclopedia.

Crackling is an onomatopoeic word, reflecting the sound of fire.

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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